Four out of four wins for Gill and Team MRF
Team MRF driver Gaurav Gill is on track to win the 2016 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title after winning his fourth event in a row.
Competing in the Hokkaido Rally in Japan, Gill and stand-in co-driver, Stephane Prevot, drove their Skoda Fabia R5 to a victory of nearly two minutes, with team-mates Fabian Kreim and Frank Christian in second place.
The victory means that Gill has now won all four rounds of this year’s championhip, and has a commanding 42-point lead over Kreim, with two rounds still to come. He last won the title back in 2013.
Leading into the Hokkaido Rally, a typhoon with torrential rain had covered many of the roads in mud, however, the Japanese organising team managed to clear all the stages and make them ready in time for the rally to start.
Conditions were extremely difficult for the 19 competitors in the APRC, with deep puddles and mud covering the 220 stage kilometres.
Gill was naturally thrilled with his victory.
“Of course I was a bit nervous before the rally, due to the change of co-driver. But everything worked out really well,” he said.
“We had changed the set-up of our Fabia R5 completely after the last APRC rally in China, so I am really happy with this win.
“It’s great to win. Four out of four is awesome. Everything worked well.
“It was a very difficult rally because of weather conditions constantly changing. The mornings were all wet, afternoons became all dry, then become pretty rough, so they were pretty difficult.”
Kreim was also happy with second place after yet another rally on which he had never competed before.
“I think we got a lot of experience, especially on these very demanding roads with very fast parts and very big ruts,” he said.
“All of the ruts have a lot of loose gravel and compared to the other events, it’s completely new to us.”
The Team MRF Skoda Fabias were fastest on all 18 of the event’s stages, with Gill taking the best time on 12 occasions, and Kreim on 6.
“It was another perfect result for Team MRF, and both the cars and the tyres performed faultlessly,” team boss Lane Heenan said.
“The conditions in Japan are often a lottery with the heavy rain making it wet, slippery and unpredictable. However, both drivers mastered them and came home with another one-two result for the team.
“We now have a stranglehold on the drivers and teams championship. An APRC victory for Gill would be his second, while we are also aiming for the fifth consecutive title for Skoda in the APRC.”
The next round of the APRC is the Rally of Malaysia at the end of October, before the final round in India in early December.
1. Gill/Prevot, Skoda Fabia R5, 2h00m23.9s
2. Kreim/Christian, Skoda Fabia R5, +1:50.6
3. Young/Read, Subaru WRX, +3:54.4
4. Takayama/Takeyabu, Subaru WRX, +4:48.9
5. Iwashita/Takahashi, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, +13:16.1
APRC pointscore after round 4 of 6:
1. Gaurav Gill 146 points
2. Fabian Kreim 104
3. Michael Young 85
4. Manfred Stohl 37
5. Hitoshi Takayama 35